It was reported recently that Martha has sold her iconic home on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton, New York. I know that many of Martha's readers and viewers consider that home to be a beautiful reflection of her design aesthetic. Second only to Turkey Hill, perhaps, it is the home Martha's fans considered to be most familiar in terms of its style vernacular - particularly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. It goes without saying, then, that we will miss seeing it in the pages of Martha's books and magazines going forward. The home was reportedly sold to former Huffington Post publisher Kenneth Lerer.
I thought it would be fun to do a post about the house and the role it played in Martha's work. From a line of paints to a complete furniture collection based on the home's atmosphere and aesthetic, Lily Pond was enormously influential in the creation of many of Martha's products. It was an oft-used site for her magazine photoshoots, both indoors and outdoors, and was also frequently used as a set for her television show: season five of Martha Stewart Living features an extensive number of episodes filmed at this address, particularly cooking and gardening segments. Below is a brief history of the house, how it came into Martha's possession, how it influenced her business and a brief synopsis of some of its iconic style signatures. I hope you enjoy it!Built in 1873, the house once belonged to one of East Hampton's most memorable preachers, Reverand Talmage. It stands on the site that used to be called "Divinity Hill" for the many ministers from New York and Brooklyn who stayed at its boarding houses. Some still call Lily Pond the DeWitt Talmage House, named after the longtime summer resident who commissioned extensive renovations to the home in 1893.
"I was attracted to its quiet, serene appearance, and though most of the houses were tucked behind privet barriers, some of the gardens were fully exposed. The most wonderful one was on the pond itself. It was breathtaking. I stood and gazed at the profuse and colourful flowers, making mental notes of the types that were blooming so perfectly - dahlias, salvias, asters, daisies and roses."
Thirty years later, Martha would have her own home on this lovely street. It was apparently Martha's daughter, Alexis, who encouraged Martha to purchase the old house in 1990, shortly after her divorce from Andy Stewart. It was a place to start a new garden, make new friends and create something that was entirely hers.
Martha completed an extensive renovation of the shingle-style summer home, which had been badly neglected. Replacing the cracking plaster ceilings with beadboard and removing the outdated heating system in favour of a more eco-friendly modulating gas boiler were among the necessary changes. Martha also completely renovated the kitchen, installing new marble counters, mahogany cabinetry and a beautiful floor of handmade cement tiles from Mexico that had been dyed a deep teal. She enclosed a screened-in porch to create an expansive breakfast area with wall-to-wall windows. Outdoors, Martha planted sumptuous gardens of climbing roses around her front porch and big patches of purple hydrangeas. There are over 1,800 tulip bulbs planted on this relatively small lot (just one acre) as well as hostas, Japanese maples and other shade-loving plants. The interior features large, open rooms with hardwood floors and big, bright windows. The six bedrooms played host to numerous guests during the summer months, when Martha entertained there frequently.
Even exterior spaces, such as the porch, were treated with refreshing hits of teal.